BUIES CREEK - U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers spoke to students and faculty in Campbell’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences on Nov. 8 about a subject important to both her and the future pharmacists on hand.
The health care industry.
More specifically, Ellmers, the Dunn Republican elected to Washington for the first time in 2010, spoke about how the 2010 Affordable Care Act - championed by President Barack Obama - will affect pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers in the U.S. To Ellmers, that effect won’t be a positive one.
“I was very much against the federal government coming in with that much control,” Ellmers told a crowd of about 75 in the Maddox Building. “As pharmacy students, you know about the part government plays in health care with Medicaid reimbursements and such, but there’s a level of control you don’t want to see (the government) surpass. It should be limited. Unfortunately, over time, our government has taken so much control that it’s dictating health care too much. This bill, I believe, is a big part of that.”
The health care reform bill was signed into law by Obama in March 2010 and will require nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. The bill was designed to help millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans receive affordable health care through a series of mandates and subsidies.
Ellmers said she believes health care reform is needed, but that reform should be through the private sector and not through government mandates.
“I want you to be as prosperous as you can be and provide the best product you can,” Ellmers told the students. “And I want you to be the resource your patients need. But the government needs to work with and listen to you … not dictate what you can and can’t do.”
Ellmers called the health care reform act “devastating”
“Health care premiums have gone up by 9 percent,” she said. “If you’re a family providing health care insurance, that’s an incredible amount of money you’re spending. And you can only imagine what employers are saying. They’re faced with dropping coverage, taking a penalty and having their employees go on the government program.”
Ellmers talked about House Resolution 1946, a bill she is co-sponsoring, which would exempt independent (i.e. locally run) pharmacies from government-imposed anti-trust laws. According to Ellmers, the bill, which is currently being reviewed by a committee, would protect community pharmacists in their negotiations with insurance companies.
“We need our community pharmacists,” she said. “They’ve been there, and families depend on them. We need to protect them, but at the same time, put them on a level playing field.”
She also support. H.R. 891, sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, which among other things would help educate patients about the medications they’re taking.
“As a nurse, I know that too often, patients aren’t knowledgeable on their medications, and we need to address that,” Ellmers said.
Before entering politics, the former nurse worked with her husband as clinical director at his medical practice in Dunn. While campaigning against Democrat Bob Etheridge in 2010, Ellmers’ opposition to the Obama health care reform bill was regularly at the top of her talking points.
Following her 30-minute speech, Ellmers fielded a handful of questions from students and faculty. The visit was her second to Campbell in the past month, having met with law school students at the University’s Norman A. Wiggins School of Law in Raleigh previously.